Chuc munh nam moi – xuan ky suu 2009!

This is the message you see hanging around everywhere, especially tonight! it means happy new year, spring of the buffalo 2009. Tonight is Tet in vietnam, or chinese new year!

I have to admit though, i haven’t done all that much sight-seeing in vietnam, but it doesn’t really bother me, as i feel i’ve still gotten to know a lot about the country!

I didn’t stay in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City (they all call it Saigon here…) for very long, but from what i saw it’s a very western city! Basically, vietnam has been divided in two for a very long time (even though they divided it into 3 when it was part of indochina but the 2 were tonkin top and cochin china bottom) and the south is very westernized because that’s where france concentrated most of their investments. But even so, i thought and think that vietnam is a lot more modern in that there are a lot of SHOPS instead of stalls lining some streets… though some have disagreed with me!

Then i went up to coast to Nha Trang on a normal bus… BIG mistake! they were blairing out vietnamese movies (i.e. SHIT) at a ridiculously load volume till like 3am! Basically i got no sleep and was pretty aggitated (only 1 of my headphones worked at this time!) In nha trang i didn’t do much apart from relax on the beach and go diving! The visibility wasn’t that great underwater because it’s only recently stopped raining and so the silt run-off from the rivers is gradually getting less, but what i saw was cool – some lionfish, STONEFISH! and this COOL fish called a seamoth – it had wings! i love diving.
Though we had to rescue some fish from a net in the first dive which was pretty upsetting, luckily they all lived. And it was pretty cold underwater too – too cold for jsut a wetsuit in my opinion.

Then i got a sleeper bus to Hoi An, another 12 hours up the coast. Sleeper buses are pretty cool, they should have them in Australia as well, and i loved the lack of Vietnamese karaoke.
Hoi An is pretty. It has quite narrow streets and it’s rpetty old (the central bit is a unesco world heritage site) and that’s probably the most sight-seeing i’ve done! I also got some stuff tailor-made, and as a result my bag is far too big now! but it’s so cheap! i even got 2 pairs of shoes (1 pair of trainers and 1 pair of boots) tailor made!! 50 dollars both cost me! But it was also quite annoying always getting harrased to ‘look in my shop’, and i wasn’t entirely sure at first i liked the clothes when they were still being made, so i was in a bad mood and stayed in watching movies all of the 2nd day, but luckily the clothes are to my liking and so is my mood!

Another sleeper bus got me to Hanoi, where i am at the moment. it’s really nice, not as congested as some others, though i still feel that crossing the street is risking my life every time. I’ll just never get used to all the honking and the mopeds. On the bus to hanoi, though, i’d decided to stop getting stressed out and made the resolution (i guess it could be a new years one, as today is new years here, and i hadn’t made one yet) to do something new every day of my travels! It’s pretty bold, and the new thing doesn’t have to be big as long as it’s genuinely new.
My first day in hanoi i went to see a waterpuppet show – it wsa so cool! I’ll put some videos up that i took soon. It’s hard to describe, but it was nice that there wasn’t much dialogue, and some bits were really funny. And then i got a cyclo back, a form of transport i hadn’t tried before because i’m stingy, which made me feel a bit like a princess 🙂
I was going to go see uncle Ho in his mausoleum today but i’d heard that it was closed for tet (turns out it’s not!) so i have actually NOT been to ANY museums. Though i feel i’ve gotten more in touch with vietnamese culture than most today – i had a 2 hour lesson on the dan bau, a typically vietnamese instrument! I learned to play jingle bells and happy birthday 🙂 i’ll put a video up of that soon too.

Tomorrow i’m off to see halong bay for 3 days, another unesco site and is supposed to be stunning, and then the day i get back i’m off to Laos, where i fly to Luang Prabang. Till then…

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